This is a combination introduction to Writing.com and purging my writing demons.
| Requiem For A Paranormal or How To Kill A Role-Playing Group
It all started with the demise of a chocolate god. I mean it was a chocolate statue. And a lot of people are addicted to chocolate. But no, it started before that. I was an avid member of a well-known author’s website that had regular chat times and allowed role-playing groups using her world. If you signed up to write in the sister site, you had strict rules to follow. I understand that. It’s how the author protected her world. And I kept trying to follow those rules. I really, really did. But things kept happening that forced my hand in other directions.
First, along with my character, who DID follow all the rules, I wrote a series of stories with Sharna, a talking dog. My poor boxer was actually a two-thousand year old shaman that had been screwed out of a wolf body. She was very popular with other writers and readers. But the web creators didn’t feel that way. There was a huge argument online about me using a talking dog. ( She could’t help it if she wasn’t a wolf). It was finally decided that I could not use her in my storyline. I was taking too many liberties with the site scenario. I was starting to feel artistically frustrated.
I next started to get in trouble in the chat room. It was a boring night and I lobbed a paper ball at a friend. She threw it back. A few nights later, we threw a few pillows back and forth, and were called down. Whoops. And so it went, with others joining in the fun, as more and more people complained about how “bored” they were that more interaction wasn’t allowed. Others were not signing on as much, because they said only a few boring topics were allowed and they couldn’t talk about the same old thing every night.
It escalated and ended one night when the regular moderator wasn’t there and it was just a few of the die hard regulars in the chat room. We started out to redecorate the room. This was in cyber and before avatars really got started. It was someone saying, “I’m throwing paint,” and another saying, “I’m ducking.” Someone slipped in liquor (in cyber for crying out loud), and we passed it around. One of our shyer members was coloring on the wall, and I joined her. Someone mentioned that a chocolate statue had been delivered. (To be fair, the author had built an empire on this one god entity). I was like okay, whatever, because we had fifteen or so people typing at the same time. I was going for the bulldozer to “tear it all down, and clean up the mess” when others apparently typed in that they pulled the statue apart and ate it. To make it worse, it was anatomically correct, and nothing was wasted. Not one piece went to waste. Nothing. Whoops.
A day or so later, I received a nice letter stating that the chat room was a place that people could come into at the end of the day, relax, and have tea and cookies. If I could not contain myself, I should probably not come back. It said other people had stopped coming just because of me. And eating the chocolate god was the last straw. How could we? To be fair to me, there were several others participating in the party (including the in charge, assistant moderator who had been dancing on a stripper pole ). And I had nothing to do with the statue. I don’t even like chocolate! But I was never going to be able to sit quietly and eat cookies, even in cyber. I can do that when I die. So I decided to start my own group. Neither the group or I parted in anger, but it was for the best.
At the same time I was planning mine, one of the senior writers from the club wanted to create a website also, so we combined the group, with her as the moderator, since she was computer savvy. This woman was and is a genius with male characters, (wherever she now is), especially in instant messenger. She could actually handle 4-5 pop-ups at one time, changing back and forth, between male and female, and actually write on-the-spot love scenes between them. And she could write a heck of a love letter using her guy.
We started off meeting a couple of nights a week. Our members let us know it wasn’t enough. Gradually, several members were in the chat room every night of the week, plotting and planning storylines, character involvement, or the look of the website. The more involved we became with our people, the closer we grew. We started to count on each other when we had great things happen in real life, all of us joining together to celebrate with our sisters. And when the bad happened, we were there in numbers as well.
I acted as editor and acting manager. Because we were a writing group, we insisted that all members create characters, and turn in something to be posted at least once a week. I approved all storylines ahead of time, so we didn’t run over each others lines, and to keep characters from being in four places at one time. And because we posted in sequence, we had a professional, consistent product.
I will admit some writers sucked, but they might have great sub-normals or a better story-line they brought with them. Since we came together in character once a week, we felt like they still contributed to the group. If this was the case, I would either work with them to write their scenes, or clean it up myself before we went to print.
I was so proud of our group! One member confided to me that she had always wanted to be a writer, but would never have got up the guts.(She was one of our best writers). Another proudly told me she had a boring job she hated, but it wasn’t as bad, because she got to come home and write for the website.
Because many of us were writing multiple “people.” the alternate co-founder finally decided to retire from the site, and write at a less hectic pace. She was plotting for twelve when she left. She also tried to tell me that she didn’t trust a couple of our members. I should have listened.
And the party continued, probably at an even greater pace, if it was possible. The website consumed my life. We kept up the original site we had used, and opened up a more elaborate one. The storyline grew, as did our members, until we had between 20-30 storylines interacting, and lots of friends stopping by to read what we wrote.
The line began to blur between who we were as people and our characters. For instance, if my Mina received a letter from Richard,(Kathy's creation), I couldn’t help but walk around in a glow, like it was the real deal. We started to have members spend too much time together. That started to get a little bit weird.
Our huge finale as a group, was our online, role-playing auction. We planned it for two months, encouraging members to write more stories to build up their points to spend. The more stories they wrote, or the more time spent on the website, the more points they earned. Each member had to put up their characters to be bid on. Whoever bid and won a character received a romantic story with them . Boy was there a lot of plotting and planning . We kept the internet burning!
To give an example of how deep we were getting into all this, I had been talked into allowing my male werewolf, Jacques, to be romantically involved with a human he hated. I privately thought she was the worst idea my friend Lois ever had. I did not want them together! I had one heck of a time writing their storyline, until I forced myself to dip deep into what made both of them tick to find good reasons. By the time I finished, I had a huge emotional attachment to Jacques, much more than I normally would. A week before the auction, Brandy, Lois‘s human dumped him. To make matters worse, she let it be known she would be buying him the night of the auction, so nobody else could have him! I felt humiliated. It felt like it was really happening. I was so hurt, I even got tipsy the night of the auction. How could my friend do such a thing to me!
The night of the auction, Megan, who had spent a lot of work online, asked to use my security code, so she didn't have to come to me. She was a real life friend of Lois, and one of the girls my old partner had not trusted, but I felt compelled to agree.
A few days later, unsuspecting, all the girls and I went to our jobs, everyone planning how they would write their stories and what they would do when they got home. I was taking my first break from our website in weeks. That afternoon , I received a puzzled call from one of our most avid members.
"Jeanne, I can’t find our site. The server says it doesn’t exist.” I was away from my computer, and before I got back, five more ladies called me, each one more anxious. Before I knew what hit me, Lois called to tell me she and her friend had dumped our entire website, and she was sorry. Everything. All the writing. The photos. The research. ALL OF IT WAS GONE FOREVER. It seemed some of the girls had been complaining that Lois was trying to take over, and it ticked her off. Just like that.
We were devastated! Our members wrote and called me crying, telling me everything the website meant to them, and couldn’t anything be done? Emotions ranged back and forth from furious to devastated. I always fixed everything. Couldn't I fix this? Several writers had never backed up their work. The webmaster regretfully wrote me that it couldn’t be retrieved. We were screwed.
We talked of starting again, but I could never force myself to pull it together. It hurt too much. It had been my life for two years. And it was gone and could not be brought back. Some girls pulled their e-mails and wanted nothing more to do with any of the old members. It was just too painful.
My nemesis Lois, and her friend, tried to contact me several times to apologize. They seemed to think a simple “sorry” would make it right. They never realized that it wasn’t just me they had destroyed, but many other girls that put their whole being into their characters and writing. Our alternate life gave all of us something we had not found in any other group. The camaraderie, friendship, and commitment we shared was something few of us will ever find again.
I eventually received over 200 letters from people that read our website and wanted to know what happened. I hadn’t even realized we had outsiders reading our work! How large would we have been if we had advertised?
A month after the site closed, I received a letter from one of the members that chose to break all contact with everyone. She explained she never wanted to hurt that much again. Her entity was a fantastically crafted god that had bid and won a date with my shaman. It was several pages of some of the best writing I’ve ever read. The lady could have novels published! I later dumped every other correspondence from our long ago website but that one. As a reminder of what could have been, and what almost was.
To prove that I was not finished as a writer to everyone, I tried to create, but no matter how long I sat, something was frozen inside, and I could not get it out. Unfortunately, this went on for several years. I wrote down storylines, what they said, how they acted, but when I tried to put it all together, for the first time in my life, I could not write. Until last month, (and I still don't know why), something changed for the better. Imps again tug on my ear as I try to sleep. Swordsmen demand my attention when I’m in the middle of heavy traffic. As I design my jewelry, a galactic princess gives me tips on what might sell. And all my other beloved characters, who have impatiently been out in the dark too long, stand in line, and remind me to write their story, or it will never be told. As I type this, one neglected white boxer, aka mystical shaman, stands on one side, and an ancient werewolf, who I tried to hook up with the wrong girl stands at the other, and says, “Go for it!”
Names of both human and non-humans have been changed.